At Almond Legals, we are consummately passionate about immigration, asylum and human rights law.
Almond Legals commenced operations in May 2011 having been duly certified by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner to provide immigration advice and services at Level 3. These include advocacy and representations at Tribunals, casework in general relating but not limited to asylum assistance, entry clearance applications, leave to remain, indefinite leave to remain, European Union (EU/EEA) applications, nationality and Cctizenship applications, detention and deportation matters, in addition to temporary admission applications and bail.
The vision to found Almond Legals sprang from the deep sense of altruistically enamoured personality of Mr Ukachukwu Cosmas Ikegwuruka. To him, migration and human rights are inextricably intertwined, having a robust effect on any country’s international treaty obligations, thereby impacting on international human rights law. In his view, a decision affecting an immigrant’s leave to remain may have consequences cutting across all other areas of his life and by extension, other areas of law. Little wonder, Cosmas believes that an improper immigration advice or service could lead to catastrophic consequences for the client. Experience has shown that many clients, following initial immigration advice, have found themselves in a bind given the poor-quality advice and representations received from some immigration practitioners. And to many others, it ended in regrets and that is why at Almond Legals, we take our job seriously even as it concerns quality and appropriate advice and representation from the initial period of work until completion.
Our clients cut across the whole spectrum of immigration matters ranging from those already settled in the UK, children, spouses, elderly relatives and others seeking to settle in the United Kingdom (UK) or for temporary purposes. There are other categories of those who seek advice on how to vary their immigration status even becoming British citizens as against those facing deportation and removal from the UK for certain reasons bordering on inadequate, inappropriate and/or poor advice.
Therefore, in order to cure the malaise of poor immigration advice and/or services, Almond Legals has been structured to provide a robust client focused system with personalised services while at the same time complying with the Commissioner’s Codes. In short, at Almond Legals, we are propelled towards persistent achievement and success for our clients, with competence as guiding principle.
It is in view of the above that you expect the following from us:
- Respectfully warm and courteous reception
- Consultation with qualified immigration advisers who have specialist training in the area in question
- sound legal advice broken down to simple terms devoid of confusion
- regular updates about the progress of client’s matters
- periodic reviews of client’s matters in view of the ever rapidly changing immigration law
- maintenance of confidentiality of all matters with our client bearing in mind the need to comply with data protection
- home grown and articulate immigration and other ancillary legal services cushioned to meet the needs of our clients within the vagaries and vicissitudes of challenges
- technologically driven in order to meet up to date information and services
- lawyers with a knack for industry, driven by sound impeccable principles and training aimed at doing difficult jobs with ease, pomp and pageantry.
- We are simply a new generation of sufficiently and excellently trained immigration advisers and advocates.
Contact us today and you will be glad you did.
Areas of work
Advice- Advice and assistance are rendered to our clients at our office. We do not give immigration advice over the telephone. We reply to email enquiries with the aim of booking appointments.
Representation at Tribunals- We represent clients at appeal hearings before Immigration Judges at Immigration Tribunals for those who have right of appeal against refusal of their applications.
Upper Tribunals- We represent clients at the Upper Tribunal in issues arising from the First Tier Tribunal on points of law-material error(s) of law- with a view to setting aside the decision of the First Tier Tribunal and remaking it as may be appropriate in the circumstance.
Judicial Review- The 2017 Guidance on Competence permits OISC advisers authorised at “Level 3” to apply for an additional category of authorisation: Judicial Review Case Management (JRCM). The Guidance outlines the key areas of competence, skills and aptitudes required by advisers authorised to practise in this area. At present, we do not have express permission to lodge applications for permission to lodge judicial review as we are yet to apply for permission in this area.
Details of services we provide in relation to immigration advice, services and assistance are as follows:
|All Tier related applications-Tier 1- 5, notably Investors, Entrepreneurs, Ministers of Religion, Religious Workers, Sports People, Students, Charity Workers, Creative and Sporting, Government Authorised Exchange & International Agreements. Others not covered under the Tier related applications are Visitors, Returning Residents, Settlement, Naturalisation, EEA/EU applications, Asylum assistance and other categories such as applications on exceptional circumstances and discretionary grounds. Substantive appeals work and representations at Tribunal including bail applications and hearings form part of our practice areas.|
All meetings with our clients for advice and assistance are by appointments only. If you call at our office you should be seen within a few minutes by the adviser you have come to see unless they have been unavoidably detained for instance at a hearing. In that case you will be informed on how long you should wait by the receptionist.
It may be that if you call at one of our offices without an appointment, any suitably qualified adviser may see you with a view to giving you advice. If this is the case you will be informed and given a time when you can return and be seen by adviser of your choice. It could jolly well be that the information you require may be one that requires instant answer provided by our leaflets, then that would solve the problem and save you time.
we accept your case, we would immediately open a case file and you will be
given a reference number which you should always quote when contacting us
either by telephone or letter.
Our Client’s Charter sets out the standard of service you should receive and explains our complaints procedure. If, for whatever reason, we cannot help you with your case because we have too much other work then we will refer you to other competent legal firms that deal in that area of work. It would therefore be your decision whether or not to deal with them.
Purpose of The Policy
The overall purpose of this policy is to ensure confidentiality in respect of all information relating to clients, management and contractors.
This policy is designed to promote clarity and transparency in what can be a complicated and/or involved immigration issues. This document is designed as a policy of what is to be achieved or adhered to, and how this is to be achieved.
ALMOND LEGALS’s confidentiality policies and procedures are underpinned by legislation including Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. All client information will be kept confidential except where the adviser is compelled to disclose information by reason of a legal or regulatory obligation.
The scope of this policy applies to the following areas:
- the provision of immigration advice and support services;
- the recruitment, employment, training, and work related activities of paid and / or voluntary staff, and the Firm’s Management;
- the development of the Firm’s image and public relations;
- The Firm’s contact and working relationships with other support agencies, organisations, businesses, and contractors; and
- Clients support forum and all initiatives in which clients participate.
The scope of this policy covers confidential information including:
- details of client support issues, applications information, document information, and personal contact details;
- Staff and volunteers personal files, personal salary and expense details, supervision/appraisal/disciplinary records, job application forms and references, training records and other work related issues, home addresses and personal phone numbers; and
- Paperwork, faxes, emails and details from discussions with clients from the Firm staff, management, and client meetings and other meetings that may occur.
The Firm is committed to best practices and procedure and will act responsibly and with integrity when handling personal information and data.
All clients, staff and / or volunteers will be informed of the Firm’s Confidentiality Policy at the earliest opportunity and the Firm will strive to ensure it has been clearly understood.
The Firm will only seek and keep information that is required for its clients’ specific purpose and that is adequate, relevant, up-to-date, accurate, and not excessive for that purpose and that it will be accessible only to those staff that needs it to carry out their work for the Firm.
The Firm will ensure to keep the affairs of all its clients and all information relating to them confidential, except where the Firm is compelled to disclose information by reason of a legal or regulatory obligation.
Current and former clients, staff and/or volunteers have a right to access any file about them held by the Firm upon request and to correct any inaccuracy in it. Information can only be withheld from a client for the following reasons:
- There is information that relates to, or is from, a third party, who has not given their consent for access to such information, or such information that is subject to legal privilege
information will be accessible upon request together with any organisational
information that is not specifically confidential will also be openly available.
The administration of confidential information must only be carried out by employees and/or volunteers who are familiar with the Firm’s confidentiality policy.
What Information Is Confidential:
All staff and/or volunteers personal files, salary details, supervision and appraisal notes, application forms and references.
- All clients, both current and former, including details of immigration support issues.
- Immigration applications, interview notes and supporting information.
- Home addresses and personal phone numbers of clients, staff and/or volunteers.
Gathering of Information:
The Firm’s staff members are responsible for collection of relevant information on clients to assess their immigration needs and eligibility.
The Firm will only approach third parties (other agencies and/or former employees) to verify information that is relevant to:
- supporting an immigration application;
- supporting a staff’s job application;
- supporting an application to volunteer with The Firm; and
- supporting an application to join the Firm’s Management.
applications for further information are normally made with an individual
consent. It should be noted that if consent is denied, the Firm may not be able
to progress with, for example, an immigration application, and that application
may then fail.
Some personal information is kept on computer for service monitoring purposes and is covered under the Data Protection Act. The Firm’s staff will hold such database for this purpose so as to limit the amount of information provided only to what is needed for administrative task. Client database records and applications are also strictly confidential and are to be secured and kept out of view.
Personal information relating to clients is similarly of a highly confidential nature and is to be secured and kept out of view. This includes information relating to individual’s immigration issues.
Access to Information
Current or former clients, staff members and/or volunteers have the right to reasonable access to any file held about them by the Firm. Requests for such access should be made in writing and will be dealt with within 2 working weeks from the date of application.
Information received from or about, third parties will be kept separately within the clients, staff members and/or volunteer’s personal files. Some third parties may have specifically given the information with the proviso that it was not to be disclosed to the person it referred to, and this is to be respected.
Individuals with a right to access may request access to their files verbally. The file may be viewed once the third party’s information has been removed. If the individual wishes to have access to the third party’s information, the Firm will make contact in writing with the relevant parties and seek their permission to disclose the information.
Disclosure of Information
At the beginning of a relationship with a client, the Firm’s staff will explain the company’s policy on confidentiality. It will be made clear that there are exclusions from the general policy of not disclosing information without the client’s permission.
Information will be shared between the agency’s representatives purely on a ‘need to know’ basis, i.e. information that is required to fulfil specific immigration requirements. As such, there will be different levels of disclosure.
In order that the Firm’s staff are fully supported and supervised, confidential information disclosed to its staff is to be shared only with the staff dealing with the client. Generally, disclosure to other persons or agencies will only be made with the informed consent of the client to whom the information relates.
If the health, safety, security or welfare of the client or others is seriously compromised, the Firm will ensure that all client information will be kept confidential except where the adviser is compelled to disclose information by reason of legal obligation.
Storage of Information
All application forms and supporting information, including former clients, where any advice or services have been provided, regardless of whether a case is seen to its conclusion will be maintained for a minimum of six years.
Computerised information on clients will be kept indefinitely as this enables the Firm to monitor its services from year to year and to identify trends. Database forms will be destroyed at year end to which they relate.
The Firm’s staff records and management information will be kept indefinitely as a management resource.
Inspection of Files and Quality Standards
The Office of The Immigration Services Commissioner may need to access your file whilst checking my competence. The OISC does not require permission to inspect my clients’ files. Please be assured that they will maintain your confidentiality at all times.
At the moment, the firm is a sole trader in England and Wales. Our Dr Cosmas Ikegwuruka would be responsible for all matters. Given his training and track records in immigration matters, we are confident we will be the firm to beat in South East as our products will speak volumes. We aim to bring in other fully qualified and trained immigration advisers.
36 Galsworthy Close
Regulated by the OISC. Ref No: F201100237
Almond Legals and you- Our charter
At Almond Legals we are committed to providing an independent and confidential service to all our clients, for a fee without regard to their race, colour, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, belief, age or disability. We aim to ensure that you are satisfied with the advice we give you and the way you are treated.
Our responsibilities to you
1. Aim to find out from the start what you are hoping to achieve, and ensure you have realistic expectations;
2. Be considerate in our dealings with you and put your interests first;
3. Always aim to explain things in a way that is clear to you and agree with you the type of service you can expect to receive;
4. Tell you who will be handling your case at each stage;
5. Explain whether there will be any costs involved and if there are provide you with a clear bill which shows what the fees will cover and to what extent.
6. Keep what you tell us confidential, other than in those exceptional circumstances when required to do so by law and only with proper authority, and refuse to act for anyone else if doing so would compromise that confidentiality.
It is our implied agreement and shared responsibilities that we can work together and achieve best results when:
We treat each other with respect and politeness;
We provide each other with
accurate and complete information including timely updates like changes of
address and circumstances;
We are both on time for appointments unless unavoidably detained by reasonable cause or causes.
Our standards of service to you
After your first meeting with us we will write to you within a week of the meeting.
If you write to us: We will reply to or acknowledge your letter within seven working days of receiving it. You will receive a full reply within twenty one working days or a letter explaining why there may be a delay and when you can expect a full reply.
In the event you telephone us: We will answer your questions as fully and helpfully as possible but in your own interests we may be unable to provide you with full advice without first seeing relevant documents. If you leave a message we will do our very best to call you back within 24 hours.
If you visit us by appointment: Reception staff will immediately call the caseworker concerned and you will not be kept waiting for more than twenty minutes, although this estimate is subject to delays caused by other interviews or court attendance.
If you seek help with an application to the immigration authorities: You will be advised on your case by a trained caseworker on what documents to submit and the likelihood of success.
In the event we represent you before an immigration judge by our agreement, we will make an appointment with you as soon as possible. A highly trained caseworker will advise you on the evidence that would assist your case and the prospects of success. We will comply with all directions from the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. It is our practice to ensure a suitably qualified person represents you at the Tribunal.
If we can help you with a reconsideration application i. e application to the Upper Tribunal: We make applications wherever we think there is a reasonable prospect of success. If we make an application on your behalf you will be sent a copy of the application and advised of the prospects of success. If we cannot make an application on your behalf we will advise you why not and do our best to let you know before the deadline expires for making an application. It is important to note that these are our commitments unless there are exceptional circumstances.
We are committed to providing you with a first class service but sometimes things do go wrong. In the first instance we would suggest that you try to resolve your complaint with your caseworker or to the senior adviser. You will receive an acknowledgement of your complaint by return post and a full explanation within four weeks of the date we receive it. It is important to state that you can complain to the OISC at any time.